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October 08, 2021

Women, it pays to be thin: study

Salary-wise, we get a good bit of data in the discrepancies between men and women.

We see that, for example, guys tend to earn more than their lady counterparts, regardless of experience, education or performance. Does this piss ambitious women off at every turn? Of course!

Yet, rarely do we get compensation breakdowns within each gender, and it’s even more uncommon we get them by body mass index. Now, we have them. So, ladies and gentlemen, get out your scales and get out your bank statements. Let’s get started:

By numbers in a new University of Florida study, thin women earn more than females of average and obese weights, while thin men are compensated much less than their more portly male colleagues.

According to the survey, which accounted for some 11,000 Germans and 12,000 Americans, the corporate world’s pay structure may be much like the fashion industry where women employees are concerned.

Very thin women, as the study phrases the group who are 25 pounds less than average weight, earn a mean of $15,572 more annually than women of normal body mass. Similarly, overweight women – defined here as 25 pounds above average weight – earn a mean of $13,847 less each year than women of normal body mass.

On the male side, thin men earn $8,437 less than fellows of average weight every turn of the calendar. From there, the study notes, pay for male workers increases steadily until guys reach 207 pounds – the tipping point where compensation then begins to trail off, on average.

Sound confusing? It is. Lot of moving parts here. To simplify things, let’s say a hypothetical office employs the following six celebrities. Here’s how their pay might break down, scrapping that 207-pound mark since I wanted an excuse to write about a certain Roseanne  star the Friday before Thanksgiving:

1) John Goodman -- $100,000 per year
2) Keira Knightley -- $85,500
3) Matthew Fox -- $75,000
4) Rachael Ray -- $70,000
5) D.J. Qualls -- $67,500
6) Aretha Franklin -- $56,000

I’ll let you guys suss out what job titles these celebs might have (Franklin = director of … mashed potatoes?), but this study gives us a good chance to step back and look at what’s going on in our own offices.

When you consider the employees at your work, do these pay gradings make sense? Do thinner women earn more than others, and do thinner men earn less?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...